The Thursday Book Beat: Amandla Stenberg Brings #BlackLivesMatter YA Novel Adaptation To Life

March is nearly over, dear readers, but the book news truck keeps rolling along. This week, we’ve got some amazing movie adaptation news for you, as well as an interview that’s incredibly riveting.

The book world was alight after finding out on Wednesday that Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games) would be starring in an adaptation of Angela Thomas’ debut novel, The Hate U Give. Thomas’ book isn’t even out yet, but Fox 2000 emerged with the film rights after what’s said to have been a very intense bidding war. Interest in The Hate U Give peaked after a similarly heated bidding war for the publishing rights in February, which eventually went to Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins).

Reading the synopsis of the novel sent chills down my spine: Starr is a 16-year-old girl who witnesses the death of her best friend at the hands of police officers. Her life and loyalties are torn between the poor community she grew up in, and her status as a student in a prep school. It’s an important and timely story, and one that’s sure to continue the conversations and work that #BlackLivesMatter have already begun. I look forward to reading the book and seeing the film, and I’m sure Amandla is going to be a powerful presence in films to come.

We’re not quite done with book-to-movie news yet though, as Roxane Gay’s debut novel An Untamed State will also be making its way to our screens in the very near future. Gugu Mbatha-Raw is set to star as a Haitian-American woman who is kidnapped, with her husband and child helpless to rescue her. Gina Prince-Bythewood, known for directing The Secret Life of Bees, will be taking the helm as director, and will also co-write the script with Roxane Gay.

I haven’t yet read An Untamed State, but Gay’s role as co-screenwriter is a positive sign for the film, hopefully ensuring that the spirit of the story is captured on screen.

Before you tap out of this tab and run to tell your friends all about these exciting movie tidbits, however, do bookmark this intricate and fascinating talk between authors Ron J. Suresha and Philip C. Barragan on fat queer literature. Barragan and Suresha discuss their writing processes, and how they view fat bodies like theirs, along with questions on gender identity. Some choice quotes:

[Barragan:] I wanted to write a story where the fat man or woman was the hero, the one who made things right in the face of adversity. And I wanted to show the power and strength in being a fat person, and the potential for creating change that can be found in each one of us regardless of our size.

And in my life, I found that society treats the obese as second-class citizens. Even lower than that, actually, and that’s wrong. But it’s often seen as permissible, and without consequence since so many fat men and women carry so much shame for being fat and often allow those hateful and hurtful anti-fat slurs to be slung about so freely. I choose to be a voice against fat prejudice and through my novel, shed more light on this subject, and to hopefully contribute something positive to the national conversation on obesity and help diminish the demonization of the state of being fat.

It’s definitely an interview worth your time and thought. See you next week, readers!

Angel Cruz

Angel Cruz

Angel Cruz is a writer and boy band scholar. You can also find her at Book Riot for endless discussion and flailing over all things literature. Ice cream, Broadway musicals, and Arashi are her lifeblood.